How Human Pollution is Effecting Seaweed Fertilizers

Various methods of fertilizing your soil exist today, and each type of fertilizer is different; seaweed fertilizer is no exception. Synthetic fertilizers have their pros and cons, just like seaweed fertilizer, and with so many misconceptions about both floating around, discerning fact from fiction is the hardest part of deciding between a synthetic and an organic fertilizer.

Synthetic Fertilizer Pros

To be sure, the greatest perk about using a synthetic fertilizer is the fact that it can be customized to suit a plethora of soil and plant circumstances. Ingredients can be added to raise or lower the pH, and extra supplements—such as iron or sulfur—can be incorporated to suit specific plants’ needs. In many cases, synthetic fertilizer contains the soluble nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K), which are found in organic fertilizers, but they can be directly adjusted for all sorts of scenarios.

Another advantage to using a synthetic fertilizer is the price range. Since synthetics can be recreated, again, they’re generally less expensive than organic seaweed fertilizer. (Please note that some synthetics are higher in price because of concentration and content.) Also, as trace elements can be added, synthetic fertilizers can contain as many nutrients as organic seaweed fertilizer.

Synthetic Fertilizer Cons

Okay, so the perks sound great, right? But there are other factors at work in synthetic fertilizers that can be harmful.

First and foremost is the ability to burn your plants with a synthetic fertilizer. The chemicals that keep the mixture stable and propel it are harsh on the environment, and can damage the microbes in your soil. What results is unhealthy soil, unhealthy plant roots and parasites that move in because of them.

Some synthetic fertilizers also contain pesticides. These are well known for their unhealthy qualities, such as poisoning vegetables and fruits and causing need to wash (literally, wash, not just rinse) your food before cooking or consuming it. Sometimes these synthetics can change the taste of your vegetables, too, because they add nutrients that wouldn’t normally occur in the development of the plants. Runoff from these chemicals can damage the environment in the long term by taking food away from the wildlife, disrupting the delicate ecosystem of your home’s yard, which can also damage your entire neighborhood. The ripple effect of this damage is felt even further out, and should be minded when using synthetic fertilizers.

Seaweed Fertilizer Pros

Seaweed contains every trace element on earth. Period. There are no arguments to negate this on a natural, organic level, as it is processing that can remove or break down nutrients in the plant. The elements total over 60, and some reports that the number is even higher than 70. This can be very beneficial to your garden, especially your fruits and vegetables.

Seaweed fertilizer is better than synthetic fertilizer because it naturally contains these elements. In a process known as chelating, the atoms of the trace elements combine with organic molecules, thus making the elements easier for the plants to absorb. Without this process, it’s possible to block up the plant with elements such as iron. Seaweed fertilizer is highly sought after by farmers and gardeners alike for its ability to aid plants in the production of chlorophyll, which is the chemical plants use to make food through photosynthesis. (This is also what makes your leaves green.)

Seaweed Fertilizer Cons

One well-known fact about seaweed is that it’s used in a kaleidoscope of ways, from beauty products like seaweed masks, scrubs, peels and lotions, to food, like seaweed salad (where the primary greens are seaweed), sushi wraps and teas. As people learn about the healthful benefits of seaweed, the demand goes up, and price follows.

Pollution plays a large role in the disappearance of seaweed. The problem here is that seaweed’s growth is stunted by the lack of sunlight from the surface, because of oil and other reflective residue on the surface of the ocean. This makes it harder for the seaweed to grow. As pollution kills off the natural food sources of the seaweed, it becomes that much more difficult to harvest good seaweed. Without, that is, paying a high price for it.

Also keep in mind that while seaweed fertilizer is a gentle, natural alternative to synthetic fertilizer, it is still possible to induce nutrient burn in your plants if you overfertilize. Always follow the directions on the packaging in which it is purchased.

In short, though they seeem different, both synthetic fertilizer and seaweed fertilizer have their benefits that can be lent to your garden.